This article is connected to our other article about the Rockville, Maryland Kosher Vacation.
Washington D.C. is one of the kind in the country in that it is here where you will find national monuments, government run museums, and a whole lot of government. It is the only place in the country where the radio ads are from commercial companies, and sound like regular advertisements from anywhere else, but end with things like, “Buy A Dell Computer for Your Government Agency” or “We Provide Government Level Security.” It’s like a twilight zone . . . with a lot of speed cameras. It is also one of those places you’re supposed to take your kids to at least once during their childhood, but after that . . . you’re good. The best museums in the country are in New York City, the capital of finance and entrepreneurship. The government run museums of D.C., when the government is open, just seem to lack something. An aquarium in the basement of a Department of Commerce building with no need to worry about where it’s funding will come from just isn’t the same as the beauty and amazingness of the Boston Acquarium, SeaWorld Acquarium, Camden Acquarium or even the Brooklyn Acquarium.
Washington D.C. is full of hotels. By searching various websites, you can find some pretty good deals from about $150-$300 night. The L’Enfant hotel was even $99 night on some websites.
However, in downtown D.C. you will not be near any kosher restaurants. For that, you’ll probably want to stay in the DuPont Circle area which is near some kosher restaurants and the one synagogue with daily minyanim in D.C. – Kesher Israel. The synagogue also has information about a mikveh and Shabbos hospitality.
There aren’t so many kosher restaurants in D.C. Most can be found in Silver Spring, MD or Rockville, MD. Follow the link to Rockville, MD to see our reviews of the food over there. A fairly complete list can be found on the local Vaad’s website, but call first to make sure the restaurant is open.
Here’s our Google Map of the highlights in Washington D.C. Keep in mind, these are only certain highlights and this is not an exhaustive list or close to it:
View Washington D.C. Kosher in a larger map
The Monuments – You’ve got Jefferson, Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, WWII, and so forth. Jefferson’s and Washington’s are accessible easily by car. The rest require a lot more walking. Washington’s is a large tower that you can climb up . . . the rest, well, you just sort of look at and move along. You can spend between 10 minutes and all day, depending on how many you choose to see.
Holocaust Museum – After having a tour of Yad Vashem with R’Asher Wade I haven’t stepped foot in another Holocaust museum. He used to give great tours from a G_d-centric perspective until the museum pushed out outside tour guides. Holocaust museums tend to be depressing and lack answers. They just leave you feeling sort of empty, without giving you meaning and purpose behind it all. I have direct ancestors who died in death camps and certainly think it should be remembered and dealt with, but I don’t find it
honorable to replace thousands of years of Jewish counter culture and meaningful life with the holocaust as our identity. Why are there “Islamic Cultural Museums” but “Jewish Death Museums”? This, unfortunately, is the identity of too many Jews – but our history didn’t start in 1933 nor did it end in 1945. You can spend about 4 hours here.
Smithsonian Museums – See the large horizontal green on the map above? Between the monuments and White House you can find lots of museums. The nice part about these is that they’re free. The downside is that anything free seems worth less in your eyes, but never fear, at the Air and Space Museum you can pay for very well down half hour planetarium shows talking about very recent and updated topics on space exploration. The rest of the museum, I never quite figured out the appeal . . . it’s a lot of hanging planes and whatnot, but the planetarium shows were great. When you get done with that one, you can pop into some of the rest in the vicinity.
International Spy Museum – This is a private for-pay museum. It’s about 50% James Bond, 35% FBI/KGB, and 15% other. The James Bond parts are kind of like, “Hey look at all these cool gadgets, wardrobes, and movies.” The FBI/KGB parts are more like, “Yeah, that stuff you see in the movies isn’t real. We just kind of do everything we can to run from fights and not get in the middle of them.” The rest is a lot of cool stuff like the Enigma code wheels, ancient Chinese cryptography methods, government run counterfeiting during the wars, and so on. You can spend about 2-4 hours here. Across the street is the Portrait Gallery . . . it’s a government museum so it’s free to go inside. The museum is a rectangle with a beautiful atrium in the middle. It’s a great place to eat lunch.
Bureau of Engraving – There’s a movie about printing money and then a walking tour where you see the money printing machines below you. It takes about an hour, but you have to, in government style, go to another entrance a block away to get tickets first.
National Aquarium – As mentioned in the introduction, it’s in a basement of a Department of Commerce building. It’s decent, but fairly small and expensive. You can spend about an hour here.
Children’s Museum / Waterfront – The D.C. Children’s museum is fairly nice. It’s similar to those you’ll find in other places, but our kids certainly liked this one.